Instant Pot Elderberry Syrup

I've been making this elderberry syrup recipe for two years now and it's high time I share it here. I initially began making my own simply because it was cheaper.

Now, I kinda love how it makes my house smell too.

If this were a candle my feelings wouldn't be hurt.


Now, why should you use elderberry syrup? Much less, make your own...


Immune Booster
Cold & Flu Relief
Reduces Sinus Infection Sympotoms
Eases Allergies

My biggest and really the sole reason... immune boosting.

We need all we can get, especially in a household where mama teaches and the kids go to daycare.

Instant Pot Elderberry Syrup

Ingredients:
4 cups water
1 cup dried elderberries
1 inch of fresh ginger (I use a tsp of powdered if I don't have fresh on hand)
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cloves
1 cup of raw honey

Directions:

Add all ingredients except the honey to your instant pot, pressure cook for 12 minutes. Do a quick release, press cancel, and saute for 10 minutes with the lid off. Mash the berry mix with a potato masher and strain. Cool completely and add the raw honey. Store in tightly sealed mason jars in the fridge. 

This recipe makes 3 and a half 8 oz mason jars of elderberry syrup. 

If you don't have a pressure cooker, simply boil on the stove until it has reduced by half. 

Serving suggestion::
1/2 tsp for 1-2 year olds (do not give under one) 
1 tsp for young children
1 tbsp for adults

I give this out on week nights during the school year. We don't take it during the weekends or summer break. 

Here is the link to the organic dried elderberries I use. A 1 lb bag will run about 20 dollars, but I've been using mine since 2018. I've got enough left to make one more batch. So 10 dollars a year + the cost of raw honey isn't so bad considering what you pay in a health food store. 


Wedding Locations: Top Tips to Make Your Dream Venue Search Easier


How did you go about finding a wedding venue? Or are you currently on the hunt? Share you thoughts in the comments below. 
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Did you recently attend a wedding and reveled in amazement at the spectacle of their reception and venue? That's great but keep in mind that what works for one couple might not be the best for you. 
You'll need to consider several factors when picking wedding locations. 
The good news is we're here to help. Learn more about finding a location for wedding receptions and ceremonies with our guide below:


1. Discuss With Your Wedding Planner
Before you visit places, before you even look any venue up online, discuss things with your wedding planner — if you have one. Not every couple hires one but if you do, take advantage of their knowledge and experience.
Planners already have a knack for understanding how to work a venue. Let them know what you aim to achieve and they can quickly figure out whether or not the venues you'll end up listing work for or against these goals. 
Your planner might already have a list of great Wedinspire venues prepared, places they already rented for other couples. Take some time to go over their usual venues and check if any of them satisfy your needs.
2. Know the Date
This is perhaps one of the most crucial steps when picking a venue. Finalize the date of your wedding.
Availability is going to affect the price of the venue, after all. You can expect higher fees if you aim to rent the venue during the summer and on the weekends. You can expect lower prices during non-peak seasons. 
The date will also help guests determine whether or not they can attend. This comes into play later on and we'll discuss that too. 
3. Stick to a Budget
You should also finalize your budget. Doing this ensures you won't list down venues that are outside your financial scope. Yes, it also means you might have to scratch off some places you initially wanted or even dreamed about because they cost too much. 
When figuring out your budget, make sure to leave an allowance for unforeseen costs. Some venues won't charge for wine until after the wedding night since it's likely you'll have to request for more bottles than initially planned. You might need to pay for an extra hour to use the venue or for more parking space.
4. Finalize Your Guest Count
The budget for your venue will mostly account for three factors: space rental, catering, and the number of guests. 
Venue owners/managers won't be able to give you a proper estimate of the costs until you have a guest list. You need to know how many people will attend so that they can compute how much you'll pay for catering. 
Don't settle for quick text messages or chatting online. Send formal invitations, even if it's only via email, and include an RSVP with a deadline. This ensures you get responses by a certain date. 
Still, leave room for 5-10 more guests. This gives some allowance for your planner and the venue managers.
5. Stick to Your Theme
Don't include a hotel reception hall if you aim for a beach wedding or a garden reception. This might sound obvious but many couples end up compromising their theme and goals and settle for the most affordable or most convenient venue available.
Stick to your theme and fight for it. 
Again, talking to your planner can be a big help. Let them know you want an evening garden reception with tons of string lights and a folk band! Let them know you want to accommodate 150 people but still keep it intimate. 
They can work their magic to find venues with you, venues suitable for the theme you want.
6. Consider Convenience and Comfort
Got a few venues in mind now? Listed a few places that jive with your theme and fit with your budget and guest list? 
Now it's time to scratch off those that don't offer a good level of convenience and comfort. Safety also falls in line with this. 
If you found a few outdoor venues, do they have a tent or a hall at the ready in case it rains? How large is the area and can it accommodate the number of guests you want? Is there air conditioning, sufficient restrooms, and escape hallways or windows in case of a fire, earthquake, or other emergencies?
7. Lighting & Audio
Lighting can make or break a wedding. It sets the mood and can make the venue look like a grand, romantic setting or make it look cheap and empty. Lighting can also affect the quality of photos and videos, especially if you hire professional photographers. 
Audio is another important aspect some couples forget to check when scouting wedding venues. You'll want to check if the audio equipment is up to date, if people at the back can still hear the music or mic, and if there's no annoying static coming from the speakers.
8. Food Is a Priority
Now you found all the places that fit your theme, are within your budget and meet all the other parameters. The next step is to eliminate choices based on their catering options.
You should prioritize venues that offer catering over those that don't. The latter requires you to hunt a separate catering service and that can lead to a whole other world of headaches. 
Taste-test the food. Check how much food each guest gets and how much you'll pay for their services. Make sure to check if the cost estimate also includes the wedding cake, desserts, a snack bar, and alcoholic drinks.
Pick the Best Wedding Locations Today!
Choosing the best wedding locations isn't going to happen overnight. You'll need to take all these factors into consideration and work things out with your partner, venue managers, and wedding planner. However, you can make the process easier and smoother with these 8 tips.
But why stop here? If you want more wedding planning tips or lifestyle tips in general, feel free to go through our other guides today! Continue to discover our other content!

Adventures in King Cake

This Louisiana girl has been on a hunt for a great king cake this season, there were aspects of moving I didn't consider.

Like having to gather a few recipes.

Last year I had an amazing king cake at a party that came from Pouparts in Lafayette. Truly it was just divine.

So for round 2 of king cakes at our house I made my own, a French one. I also made a few changes to it to make it 1) more user friendly and 2) I don't recall the other flavors in what I had in Lafayette.


Sorry for the lack of beautiful staged photography, I made this after dinner on a dark winter night. This is the best I could do, but I can assure you it tastes amazing. 

Galette des rois or French King Cake


Ingredients:
1 lb of puff pastry (I really like the refrigerated one and not the frozen if you can get it) 

Almond Cream:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sugar 
pinch of salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
2 large eggs
1-2 tsp of vanilla (taste and see if you need more than 1)
1/8 tsp almond extract

milk and egg to create an egg wash before baking

Directions:

Combine all of the almond cream ingredients and chill. I left mine over night just because of time. 

Cut puff pastry in half (two rectangles, or if you can get two sheet and make two circles). Spoon almond cream onto the puff pastry evenly leaving about 1/2 inch to crimp and seal the edges. 

Places the second piece of puff pastry on top of the one containing almond cream, seal and crimp the sides. Score the top with any design you choose. Brush with the egg wash, and bake according to the puff pastry directions. 

I baked mine at 425 for nearly 30 minutes. I probably took it out two minutes early. 

Allow it to cool for 15 minutes and serve. 

If you're feeling extra fancy place a whole almond in your king cake, whoever gets it has to buy the next one. (or make the next one!) 

Friday Five

We had our first "run for cover" Alabama storm last weekend. Luckily the stars aligned and it hit the perfect time of the day - after lunch and before naps. The kids did great for being stuck in a dark box for an hour. 

This mama ain't about no night time waking. If it's your time, it's your time. 

Now before anyone tells me how we are "now in tornado alley," we also lived there in Central/North Louisiana. The difference is that if you dig a hole you get a pool so we just sat in the hall and hoped for the best. 


I don't know if y'all heard... but LSU won the National Championship. I had a lot of fun watching it with Jeremy, this will have to become a regular thing since he doesn't have his game watching buddies around anymore. 

On the other hand, the more the week has moved on the more irritated Joe Burrow has made me. I listened to the Pardon My Take podcast where Burrow and Coach O were interviewed the morning after the game. O is a great guy and you won't really change my mind on that. But Burrow.... how many eye-roll emojis can I put here? He was arrogant, cocky, and drunk. He carried on about OBJ handing out money and didn't seem to care because he was officially out of the team after the game ended. 

It just overall seemed like a lack of respect for the school. All the accolades have gone to his head and he is ready to be pro. It shows, and not in a good way. 


In case you haven't seen our guest room... and it's safe to say I haven't posted a photo of or in it since before Harrison was born... it needed updating. 

Now, the room isn't getting a total redo, I'll wait until we buy a house and are more settled. But the bedding was driving me nuts. I get zero joy looking at sheets I bought in 2006. White eyelet bed has had a good life and it is going to now live in the hall closet in case we ever need that comforter for an extra guest or such. 

The rest of my bedding should be in today and I am beyond excited to make that bed! Funny enough,  I don't think I possess the ability to purchase fun colors for items I want to see last several years. Instead the guest bed has become the extension of my other bedrooms. 

Our room: Black, grey, and blue floral
Kids room, grey, white, and blue
Guest bed: grey, white, and who knows because it's just the bed. 

Living room and kitchen: wood, brown, burlap, and colors sprinkled in. 


How's bath time been going you ask? 

These two want to be on top of each other and yet as far away as possible. Even when we have a full blown house with enough rooms I think they'll still share a room. At least until it is expressed otherwise. 

This particular fight, Harrison was turning everyone into bubble man and no involved parties were appreciative. 


Life most nights: 


Maybe it's just because a big youth event is on the horizon (see also: tonight), but I feel like I've been solo parenting many a night here lately. 

I also realized that my Sunday Bathroom Selfie that I also took with Harrison has yet to happy with whom I've been lovingly calling T-Baby based on his affinity for Cajun food and grits. 

So we had to remedy that. 

WHICH ALSO MADE ME NOTICE that those pajamas have seen better days. Two fat babies are no match for Old Navy footie pjs. As seen by the knees and feet. Mama might need to dig in the clothing boxes this weekend or make a stop by the store for more. 

Meal Planning Monday

It took one week of meal prep to find out I am not here for it. So sandwiches for lunch it has become! 



Monday | Chick-Fil-A to use up that receipt day offer.

Tuesday | Sausage, Peppers & Onions, Zucchini, & Goat Cheese Skillet (that's literally all that is in it)

Wednesday | Hamburger Supreme Casserole

Thursday | leftovers

Friday | Pizza Night!

Saturday | Jeremy is gone to Winter Retreat with the youth group so I honestly have no clue what the kids and I will be up to. Surviving is probably it lol!

Sunday |

Breakfast - macro bar
Lunch - Low carb wrap with turkey, bacon, cheese, lettuce, and mayo with Quest Protein Chips

What is a Destination Wedding?

Today's guest post is all things destination wedding. Tell me in the comments if you had one, are planning one, or have even attended one! My sister-in-law actually had a destination wedding and loved it. It was a great way to have an intimate wedding in a location you love. 
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Most girls dream of their wedding day all their lives. They envision the dress, the flowers, the cake, and the location.
Destination weddings are growing in popularity. Who wouldn't want the most important day of their lives to take place with a picturesque backdrop surrounded by friends and family?
Are you wondering what is a destination wedding and if it's the right choice for your big day? 
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about planning a memorable wedding far from home.


What is a Destination Wedding?
Most people get married in their hometowns surrounding my friends and family. There's something nostalgic about having your wedding close to home.
This is easy for couples who met in school or originate from the same area. But for those couples who don't have roots anywhere or are looking for an adventure, destination weddings are perfect.
These weddings are held far from home, often in exotic locations. Caribbean islands, romantic European weddings, or even quaint towns in the mountains are all popular choices.
Why People Love Destination Weddings
Most destination weddings are held in a resort where every detail is organized and arranged by the staff. Not to mention, couples can have their honeymoon right there. This cuts down on travel time and spending.
Some couples even opt to have guests stay for a few days following the wedding to keep the party going!
Many resorts have wedding venues on-site for such an occasion. From grand ballrooms to outdoor ceremony venues, the food, flowers, and music are all provided by the resort. 
Now you and your future partner can focus on the details like the dress, shapes of diamonds for your ring, and the guest list.
The Guest List
Speaking of the guest list, this is the only part of planning a destination wedding that can get a bit tricky. Traveling to your destination of choice can be quite costly for guests. This is especially true if you choose an exotic or overseas location.
Guests already feel obligated to give a generous wedding gift. Attending a destination wedding means paying for airfare or travel expenses, as well as accommodations at the resort. 
When creating your destination wedding guest list, keep it to close friends and family. Don't be surprised if some people aren't able to attend. 
Destination weddings are rarely large-scale events but, instead, more intimate. If this is the feeling you're going for, a destination wedding is sure to deliver.
Keep Your Destination Wedding Casual
One of the best parts of a destination wedding is the ability to keep things casual. 
Have you always dreamed of getting married on a beach? Ditch the heels and opt for sandals or even go barefoot to compliment your simple, white dress. 
Guys will be delighted to wear shorts, flip-flops, and collared shirts. 
Use the wedding location to inspire the decór and the dress of both the wedding party and guests.
Think outside the box when choosing your location as well. From ski resorts and vineyards to the beach or even a castle, the options are truly endless!
Plan Your Unforgettable Destination Wedding Now
You have the time and creativity. Now you know what is a destination wedding and you can start planning today!
Discuss potential locations with your future spouse. Think of your interests, the time of year, as well as your budget – and don't forget the budget of your guests.
Looking for more ideas and inspiration? Check out our wedding section for tips, tricks, and suggestions.

Friday Five

For the record, that's not my hand. It's a grabby baby. 

I found our first Alabama king cake this week, Elliot being too small to taste last year finally got a bite this year. He's such the child to refuse to try new things, he flat refused king cake. So I forced it on him. Now he yells if you pass it and don't give him a bite. 

Go figure. 


One of our fave neighbors from our old cul-de-sac sent the boys a box of Christmas goodies. You can tell Naomi knows Harry well... cookies, slime, bath toys. Elliot... he got in the box and then stole Cheetos from Harrison. 

Someone has to buy this child his beloved chocolate chip cookies... because Mama sure isn't doing it lol! 


My later than his late walking brother decided to take a few steps on Friday. Since then he's rarely been excited to walk much but stands like he's winning a prize. He's going to get his little self hurt acting just like his bother did, they want to practice all new skills in the tub. 




That's about it for this week. We haven't been up to much, but tomorrow we will be hunkering down with the bad weather that is blowing through. Something about weather is making me much more nervous than it ever did in Louisiana. We had tornadoes, but I wasn't one to panic about them. Maybe it's the storm shelter at our house, but I am a basket case when it gets gross outside.

Calgon take me away where the hurricanes are my worst worry and nothing sneaks up on you.

Getting Married in a Church: Everything You Need to Know


We actually weren't married in my church back home. At the time it was being renovated and the renovations were set to be done just at the time of our wedding. Far too risky. The other two options being plan a wedding in a month or just find another venue... and another venue is what we went with. Today's guest post explores church weddings and things you might need to know. 
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Americans aren't anywhere near as religious as they used to be. According to a recent survey, only about 50% of people belong to a church right now, which is down from 69% back at the turn of the century.
But there are still plenty of people who are members of a church. And for these people, getting married in a church is a no-brainer. They want to hold their ceremony inside of a church as opposed to inside of another venue.
Are you interested in tying the knot in a church? Regardless of which religion you practice, there are a series of steps that you're likely going to have to take prior to getting married in a church.
Take a look at some of the things you'll be expected to do before celebrating your wedding day in a church.
Begin by Becoming an Official Member of a Church
Getting married in a church usually isn't as simple as walking into any old church and picking out a date for your wedding. More often than not, you'll need to be a member at a church before you're allowed to get married there.
If you're already a member at a church, great. You won't have to worry about taking steps to become a member there. But if you're not a member at a church—or if your soon-to-be spouse isn't one—start things off by becoming members at the church at which you want to get married.
In some cases, this will be easy enough. You can become a member of a church by filling out a few forms in a church office.
In others, you or your spouse may have to take classes and go through an entire process to become a member of a certain religion and, by extension, a member of a church. It all depends on what religion the church practices and how they handle membership.
Let Your Church Know You Would Like to Schedule a Wedding
Once you and your spouse are official members of a church, the next step you'll want to take as far as getting married in a church is concerned is scheduling your wedding.
Generally speaking, it's best to do this well in advance of your wedding date. Many churches schedule weddings a year or so in advance.
For this reason, you should check with a church to see about their availability for a wedding before you look around for an affordable wedding venue for your reception. The last thing you want to do is plan out an entire reception for a specific day only to discover that your church can't handle a wedding ceremony on that same day.
This could throw off your wedding plans and make it impossible to get married in a church.
Make the Proper Preparations for Getting Married in a Church
Getting married in a church often involves doing more than just showing up on your wedding day and saying "I do!" You and your spouse will also have to go through some type of marriage counseling sessions in the months leading up to your big day.
In the Catholic Church, Pre-Cana preparations are mandatory for all those couples getting married. In other churches, the pre-wedding preparations aren't nearly as extensive.
When you pick out a date for your wedding at your church, check to see what kind of preparations you'll be expected to take care of beforehand. It'll ensure that you don't put off any necessary preparations that could prevent you from getting married in a church as expected.
Put Together the Plans for Your Wedding Ceremony With Your Church
When you plan a wedding ceremony outside of a church, it's pretty much up to you to map out every aspect of it.
You can customize the ceremony in almost any way you want.
Weddings in the church operate a little bit differently. There is a format to them that you'll need to follow when you're married inside a church.
That being said, that are some small plans that you'll need to make for your wedding ceremony in a church. For example, you'll have to pick out songs and readings used during the wedding ceremony.
You'll also be in charge of decorating the church for your wedding ceremony, provided the church allows you to do it. You'll have to bring in flowers and other decorative touches to make the church look more festive on your wedding day.
Pay Your Church for Your Wedding Ceremony or Consider Making a Donation
Getting married in a church is not free. You'll usually be asked to pay a small fee to use the church for your wedding. You'll also have to pay for someone to sing, play the piano, etc.
The good news is that most churches are willing to work with those who are going to struggle to pay for these things. There are even some that will ask for donations to their church as opposed to creating set fees for wedding services. This allows couples to donate what they can instead of being obligated to pay a certain amount of money to a church.
Make sure that you work the church fees associated with a wedding into your overall wedding budget. It'll help you and your spouse stay on track with your wedding spending.
Attend Church With Your Spouse Following Your Wedding Ceremony
Getting married in a church is a great idea for couples. It solidifies their bond in the eyes of God and sets down a solid foundation for their marriage.
It also gives couples a good reason to continue coming back to the church throughout their marriage. They can keep building on their faith together and utilize the church as the backbone of their relationships.
Would you like to get your hands on more tips for getting married?
Browse through all the wedding-related advice in the articles on our blog to make sure that you're able to put together plans for the wedding of your dreams.